Life with Braces

Now that you have your braces, how do you take care of them? It’s important for you to know how to take care of your braces properly throughout your entire orthodontic treatment.

Eating with braces

Don’t worry, you’ll be eating popcorn and snacking on potato chips again in no time! Before you can start enjoying some of the treats you love, however, you will need to take special care to avoid any foods that could damage your new appliances.

Foods to avoid with braces

  • Chewy foods — bagels and pizza crust (cut them thin first)
  • Crunchy foods — thick pretzels, thick chips, chewing on ice
  • Sticky foods — caramel candies, taffy, gummies, chewing gum
  • Hard foods — whole nuts, apples, carrots (cut them thin first)
  • Foods that require biting into — corn on the cob, meat on the bone (cut the corn off of the cob, and the meat off of the bone)
  • Energy bars and power bars (cereal bars and fig bars are softer options)
  • When wearing a palatal expander-- popcorn and seeds
  • Acidic beverages-- carbonated beverages and lemonade.  (Rinse your mouth with water after having sports drinks or fruit smoothies.)
  • Excessive sugary foods-- rinse your mouth with water after having a cookie, but avoid licking a lollipop for more than a few minutes. Do not chew hard candy. Rinse the sugar out of your mouth after a treat.

Foods you CAN eat with braces

  • Any real food that you cut into thin pieces
  • Dairy — soft cheese, pudding, milk-based drinks
  • Breads — sliced bread, soft tortillas, pancakes, muffins without nuts
  • Grains — pasta, soft cooked rice
  • Meats/poultry — soft cooked chicken, meatballs, lunch meats, any meat that is cut into thin pieces
  • Seafood — tuna, salmon
  • Vegetables — any cooked vegetable like mashed potatoes, steamed spinach, beans. Also any thin sliced raw vegetable or vegetable that is already thin (like lettuce).
  • Fruits — applesauce, bananas, fruit juice, raw fruit that is cut into thin slices
  • Treats — ice cream without nuts, milkshakes, Jell-O, soft cake

Soreness caused by braces and appliances

When you first get your braces, you may notice your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal, and we promise your mouth will not be sore forever!

To relieve the pain of mouth irritations, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes, but do not swallow the salt water. Alternatively rinse with Healthy Gums Rinse by The Natural Dentist, or a half and half solution of hydrogen peroxide and water.

For tooth soreness eat a softer diet.

If the tenderness is severe, take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. Avoid taking ibuprofin (Advil) repeatedly as it does slow the tooth movement.

It is not uncommon for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they become used to the braces. We provide you with wax to put over the braces to "cushion" the parts that poke you. If you need more wax, please let us know.

Loose teeth

If your teeth begin to feel a little loose, don’t worry; this is normal! Your braces must first loosen your teeth to move them into the right position. Once your teeth have been repositioned, they will no longer be loose. If a baby tooth that is attached to the braces becomes loose it can easily be detached so that it can fall out.

Loose wires and bands

The wires and bands on your braces may come loose. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible so we can check and repair your appliance. If any piece of your appliance comes off, be sure to save it and bring it to the office with you.

You can temporarily fix the loose wire by using the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire carefully and gently back into place. If the loose wire is causing irritation to your lips or cheeks, put wax or a small wet cotton ball over the broken wire to relieve the pain. If the archwire comes out of the tube in the back you can put it back into the tube with a tweezer or needle nose plier.  If the archwire slides from one side to the other you can center it using a needle nose plier.

Take care of your appliances

Damaged appliances can increase the length of your treatment process, so be sure to take care of all your appliances. Your teeth and jaw can only move into their correct positions if you wear the rubber bands, headgear, retainer, or other appliances consistently as prescribed by your doctor.

Playing sports with braces

Game, set, and match — we have great news for athletes! You can still play sports even while undergoing orthodontic treatment! If you do play sports, it’s recommended you wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and your appliance. Let Dr. Okun know if you need help finding the right mouthguard for the best protection.

In case of a sports emergency, be sure to check your mouth and appliance immediately for damage. If you notice any loose teeth or appliance damage, please contact our office right away. You can temporarily relieve the discomfort by applying wax to areas that poke you and by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water.